The role of Comprehension in Requirements and Implications for Use Case Descriptions.

Phalp, K. T., Adlem, A., Jeary, S., Vincent, J. and Kanyaru, J.M., 2011. The role of Comprehension in Requirements and Implications for Use Case Descriptions. Software Quality Journal, 19, pp. 461-486.

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DOI: 10.1007/s11219-010-9123-6

Abstract

Within requirements engineering it is generally accepted that in writing specifications (or indeed any requirements phase document), one attempts to produce an artefact which will be simple to comprehend for the user. That is, whether the document is intended for customers to validate requirements, or engineers to understand what the design must deliver, comprehension is an important goal for the author. Indeed, advice on producing ‘readable’ or ‘understandable’ documents is often included in courses on requirements engineering. However, few researchers, particularly within the software engineering domain, have attempted either to define or to understand the nature of comprehension and it’s implications for guidance on the production of quality requirements. Therefore, this paper examines thoroughly the nature of textual comprehension, drawing heavily from research in discourse process, and suggests some implications for requirements (and other) software documentation. In essence, we find that the guidance on writing requirements, often prevalent within software engineering, may be based upon assumptions which are an oversimplification of the nature of comprehension. Hence, the paper examines guidelines which have been proposed, in this case for use case descriptions, and the extent to which they agree with discourse process theory; before suggesting refinements to the guidelines which attempt to utilise lessons learned from our richer understanding of the underlying discourse process theory. For example, we suggest subtly different sets of writing guidelines for the different tasks of requirements, specification and design.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:0963-9314
Uncontrolled Keywords:Requirements, Comprehension, Discourse Process, Use Case, Specification, UML
Subjects:Generalities > Computer Science and Informatics
Group:School of Design, Engineering & Computing > Software Systems Research Centre
ID Code:13237
Deposited By:Dr Keith Phalp
Deposited On:11 Mar 2010 18:24
Last Modified:29 Jul 2013 16:55

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